Friday, August 28, 2009

Tech Talk

I think I have the coolest job in the world. Sure there are things about it that suck, that's true with any job. The hours are sometimes very long and it's a full time job just keeping this building in one piece...together is probably a more accurate phrase. But the rewards are so much greater, the sense of accomplishment, the closing of one chapter and opening of another. I work with an incredible staff, I have the privilege of collaborating with and learning from other directors, designers, actors and technicians. I can't help but smile when I see the look of excitement on the face of a new volunteer who is swept up in what we do here and is eager to be a part of it. I have the freedom to experiment and try new ideas, but most importantly I have the freedom to dream and create!

I get to see my ideas, my dreams become reality. What starts as words or sketches takes on life here. These dreams become pieces that can be seen, touched and shared with others. Four weeks ago, my dream was in the shape of a small scale model, and now it is full size. In two weeks, the dream will be complete and the show will open (Seussical: September 10 for those keeping score). I often don't sleep at night just thinking about the final product.

Yes, it is a lot of work. Often back breaking and exhausting and although the dream lives only for a brief moment in time, it is worth it. Long ago I accepted as part of what I do, that it only lasts for a short time before it becomes a picture or a memory. What a privilege to make it there!

So much will happen between now and the next time I write here. In that time, one set will have been completed and another started, auditions will have come and gone, rehearsals will have begun for The Woman in Black, collaboration on A Christmas Carol will be under way, the roof will have leaked in some new places and old ones, hundreds of volunteer hours will have been logged, many new faces will have walked through the doors for the first time (hopefully the first of many times). Throw in a few special events, Charlotte Film Society movies and many sleepless nights laying awake...dreaming.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We Are Here!

Hello. I'm Nancy. Welcome to my blog. When Jackie first proposed that the staff take turns blogging for Theatre Charlotte, she sent out a schedule of who would post when. My contribution was described as "Nancy's Office Rantings." Rant? Moi? I simply could not imagine what I would "rant" about, as I am a person of refined and gentle good humor who does not have a discouraging word for another soul. Even-tempered and sweet as I am, I'll admit that from time to time things happen around here that could be described as "inexplicable" or even "irksome."

For instance, the other day a lady called in and yelled at me -- hollered! -- that she "HAD ABSOLUTELY NO WAY OF GETTING IN TOUCH WITH US!"

"Why, whatever do you mean?", I said, sweetly.

She asked when the theatre had moved. I told her that we hadn't and that Theatre Charlotte had in fact been here at 501 Queens Road since the Mayflower, more or less. "WELL, WHEN DID YOU CHANGE YOUR PHONE NUMBER??" I assured her that our phone number had not changed. It is true that about a year ago we dropped a secondary line in an effort to cut costs, but the main office number has always been 704-376-3777. I believe this number was issued to us by Alexander Graham Bell himself.

I think it is important to note that we can also be found online at our website,, and the websites of carolinatix, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, and the Arts & Science Council. A quick check will most likely show our presence on Facebook, MySpace, FacePlace, Twitter, Chatter, Yammer, Blather, Google and Bing. Also the phone book, pages both yellow and white.

In the words of Dr. Seuss's Whos on their clover, "We are here, we are here, we are here!" Right where we've always been. So call us. Come on in. Come see our shows! You know where to find us!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Volunteeronomics: Fun With Numbers!

Hi. I’m Stuart! I moved to Charlotte a little over 5 years ago, and I am entering my 6th season as a TC volunteer. I have worked backstage or in the booth for 12 shows… and you may have seen me onstage in Walking Across Egypt (Dodson Clark), Little Shop of Horrors (Mushnik), A Christmas Carol (Fezziwig and others) and The Full Monty (Dave); and I will soon be seen as Horton the Elephant in Seussical!

A lot has been said and written recently about the state of our economy and its effects on the arts. It’s no big surprise that arts organizations in Charlotte and the surrounding communities (Theatre Charlotte included) have taken a big hit as people’s discretionary income has decreased and other funding sources have dried up. The funding by the ASC, corporations, patrons, and the theatre-going public is of vital importance… but I want to take some time to stress the importance of the volunteer to the success of Theatre Charlotte.

I have a degree in statistics, so when asked to guest blog, I knew immediately that I wanted to put my day job to use! So, let’s crunch some numbers, shall we?

The 6 shows this year will require, at a minimum, 83 actors, 18 techies, 360 ushers, and 180 concessions people. Let’s look at a breakdown of the hours to cover these volunteer positions…

· 83 actors * 12 hours a week * 6 weeks = 5,976 hours (not an exact science :) )

· 3 techies per production * 6 shows * 12 hours a week* 3 weeks = 648 hours

· 6 ushers * 60 performances * 2 hours per performance = 720 hours

· 3 concessions people * 60 performances * 2 hours per performance = 360 hours

· Other misc. hours – 5 hour work day per production * 15 volunteers * 6 shows = 450 hours

· GRAND TOTAL = 8,154 hours (and counting)!

Over 8,000 hours at the bare minimum! And that’s not even considering the countless other hours put in by the board of directors and volunteers to plan and coordinate other events throughout the year.

Needless to say, if TC paid for these hours it would be crippling to the budget. Just paying the minimum wage alone would cost the theatre over $59K!

Theatre Charlotte is “Charlotte’s Community Theatre”. It is “for the community… by the community”. While the organization relies on the monetary contributions of many… it cannot exist without its community of volunteers. The importance of the volunteer can never be understated or exaggerated. So, if you’re interested in helping out your community theatre but may not have the means to contribute financially … please remember that your time and effort is just as important (and as appreciated)!

So, come. Entertain. Build. Paint. Pour. Guide. Organize. Have fun. “Charlotte’s Community Theatre” needs you…

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ramblings of the Executive Director

Checking Roget's Thesaurus regarding rambling: disjointed & long-winded. Hmmm. Two words I am used to hearing, particularly from one Mr. Richard Thurmond, former TC Board President. But, hang with me, as this is my first time blogging. So, I may be disjointed, but hopefully not long-winded.

I was thinking what I should write about in my first blog ever: how bad the economy is, how challenging fund raising is, budget cuts, reduced salaries and on and on. But, I thought, who doesn't know the economy is in pitiful shape and thus fund raising is hard, forcing budget cuts, etc.? So, I decided to push through the dark clouds for the silver lining. Hmmm. Silver lining....hmmm. Oh, I know--Theatre Charlotte is still here! We are here and we are about to embark on our 82nd season! Pretty good. Our tiny, but mighty, four-person staff is intact--poorer, but still working hard and still dedicated to creating those outstanding theatre opportunities that are mentioned in our mission.

We have close to 550 active volunteers. Now, there's a silver lining! As a community theatre, our reason for being is for volunteers. And we have some good ones--performers, set builders, props people, crew members and ushers. And our volunteer pool continues to expand. We had 84 people audition for our opening production of "Seussical" and we have a cast of 35--all volunteers, with close to three-fourths of them new to TC (including my 4-year old daughter who will be playing the elephant-bird hatched by Horton the elephant at the end of the play.)

It took us awhile to put it together, what with performance rights for a couple of shows being withdrawn, but we have a great Main Stage season: "Seussical," "The Woman in Black," "Biloxi Blues," "A Streetcar Named Desire," and "Smoke on the Mountain." "The Woman in Black" is the most recent addition to the season. The North American rights to the other play we had selected and advertised were withdrawn and we were told we had to pick a different play. We wanted something scary because that slot opens Halloween weekend. I read "The Woman in Black" and it is really scary--far scarier than what we had initially chosen. So, still silver lining stuff.

No offense to other set designers and tech directors in the area, but we feel we have the best one in Chris Timmons. Talk about silver lining--not only is he a terrific designer and very cool to collaborate with, but he can put great stuff on the stage for very little money. Now that's what I'm talking about--silver lining! I have directed 72 plays and have worked with some good designers, but Chris is at the top of the list and, by far, the most fun to work with.

I am not slighting the rest of our brave little staff. I will praise them in future blogs. So, there you go--silver linings. Oh, and our season ticket sales are really good (putting on my ED hat--of course they could always be better) and the donations from our loyal patrons are strong and we have every reason to believe they will continue that way.

We at Theatre Charlotte have much to be thankful for in the midst of all this economic and political turmoil. This mess has made us more creative, more innovative and even better at borrowing good ideas from theatres around the country. So, my ramblings for this week have come to an end. I hope to hear from you and remember--theatre entertains, engages, inspires and unites community. Support all your local theatres!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Theatre Charlotte's New Blog!

Welcome to Theatre Charlotte's official blog! It was only a few years ago when Theatre Charlotte really jumped on the internet bandwagon with our new website and online ticket sales. Then last year we made our first dive into "social media" with our Facebook page. Now, here we are, about to launch our 82nd season and our very first Blog!

So, what can you expect to find on the Theatre Charlotte blog? Is this just another attempt to get you to buy tickets and donate money? Well, yeah, but the real goal, the true mission, of this blog and of Theatre Charlotte as a whole is to engage, inspire and educate our community through theatre. So, we've put together a "blog series" that we hope will be engaging, inspiring and educational.

We'll have monthly posts from each of Theatre Charlotte's staff members - Executive Director, Ron Law; Technical Director, Chris Timmons; Executive Assistant, Nancy Wilson, and me, the Director of Development. These posts will give you a little more insight into the day to day operations of TC, the production process, and all the weird and fascinating things that happen when you spend your days at Theatre Charlotte.

Other regular contributors to this blog include Theatre Charlotte history buffs, including Pat Heiss and Bill Brown, will take you back in time with "This Month in Theatre Charlotte History." Also, Vito Abate will ask you to just do it with his monthly posting about his monthly themed reading and performance series.

Finally, the blog will feature special guest bloggers including the director of each TC production who will fill you in on what's happening with each upcoming show and a different TC volunteer each month who will tell you about their TC experience.

Our blog will also feature regular surveys, photos, and other fun extras!

So...Subscribe! Follow us! Share your comments! Enjoy!

Jackie Timmons